A room where you can put all your junk down as you enter the house is becoming popular. But soaker tubs and breakfast nooks are losing favor.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 2, 2011 2:24PM

Family room & open kitchen (© Look PhotographyBeat/SuperStock)Here's a home trend we can all get behind: a special room where you can dump all the stuff you and your family bring home every day.

Such a room, called a "drop zone," is replacing the mudroom in new construction and remodeling projects, according to The Wall Street Journal.


These rooms, which can be as big as 10 feet by 10 feet, may include baskets for mail, places for backpacks and coats, storage for winter outerwear and maybe even lockers.


"A closet with a pole and hanger won't do," Washington, D.C., real-estate agent Laura McCaffrey told The WSJ.


The "drop zone" is part of a trend away from the showy and toward more practical home design, perhaps inspired by the times in which we live or maybe because people are just getting smarter about their space.


Texas home was destroyed by a hurricane in 2008, but the owner didn't miss a payment. A new federal program gives homeowners the right to request a review of an improper foreclosure.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 2, 2011 12:33PM

Lot where Brad Gana’s home used to stand (© Click2Houston.com)During this foreclosure crisis, we've seen a lot stories about incompetence and missteps by banks and loan servicers. Just this week, the federal government announced that homeowners who may have suffered improper foreclosures could ask to have their cases reviewed.


But it won't take a review to reveal this error: Bank of America tried to foreclose on a home that doesn't exist.

Not only that, but the owner also had never missed a payment. Even after Hurricane Ike destroyed the Seabrook, Texas, home in 2008, Brad Gana continued to make all his payments on time.


But apparently he failed to insure his nonexistent home. So Bank of America, as lenders often do in this situation, bought a very expensive insurance policy and raised his monthly payments.


People of all ages pay $2,500 a night to sleep where Snooki and the gang do their reality TV show. 'It's like you are buying 15 minutes of fame,' one says.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 1, 2011 1:30PM

Jersey Shore house in Seaside Heights, New Jersey (© Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)When it comes time to share stories about your summer vacation accommodations, few will be able to top those who rented the house where the MTV reality show "Jersey Shore" is filmed.

"It was basically the closest thing we’ll ever come to being a celebrity," Joe Ambrosini, 33, said to The Asbury Park (N.J.) Press. Ambrosini, of Philadelphia, rented the house for a night with seven friends. "Whenever we went out on the deck or did anything, right away cameras were flashing and people were saying 'Hey, I think it’s one of them.'


"We all have said that it was probably the best night of the summer," Ambrosini said. "It's like you are buying 15 minutes of fame."

The house rents for $2,500 a night, though rates are negotiable for parties and multinight stays. It has six bedrooms and three baths. We think the house could use a visit from HGTV's "Design on a Dime" team, but you can see photos of it here. People have also posted photos of themselves inside or in front of the house on its Facebook page.


What kind of people rent the "Jersey Shore" house? All kinds, said Michael Loundy, the real-estate agent who handles the rentals.

Tags: celebrity

Even those who would like to relocate in retirement don't think they can. Those who do plan to move cite a desire for a smaller house or a better climate.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 1, 2011 12:08PM

Just over half of baby boomers expect to stay in their current cities for retirement.


Both concerns about their personal finances and a distrust of real estate are factors keeping boomers from chasing the traditional retirement dreams of fun and sun, according to a new poll by The Associated Press and LifeGoesStrong.com.

"I was hoping I'd be moving to a beach somewhere, anywhere, preferably a warm one," Shelley Wernholm, 47, of Cleveland, told The AP. But her plans to retire and move by 60 have been dashed. Her pension was eliminated, her investments have lost value and her home of 21 years is worth only half of what it used to be.

"I'm not moving," she said. "I can't. It's hard to remain optimistic."

Tags: buying

Zillow says a substantial number of people may have the wrong idea about housing-market conditions, not to mention appraisals and inspections.

By Tony at MSN Real Estate Nov 1, 2011 5:44AM

You may remember 2005. The Chicago White Sox won the World Series, President George W. Bush started his second term and median sale prices for existing homes grew 11.3% from the year prior. Owners' equity in their homes increased by 15% in that year alone, the National Association of Realtors reported — and 50% since 2001.

© Robert Llewellyn/CorbisOh, how things have changed.

The median price for existing homes nationwide is now below 2003's level, after a long period of annual declines. Annual equity increases? Maybe next year; half of today's homeowners have less than 50% equity in their homes, and 14.6 million homeowners owe more on their home than their home is worth.

Yet 42% of potential homebuyers in a recent Zillow survey say they believe home values increase 7% each year.

Now sure, real estate is local, and some pockets of the housing market are doing just fine, thank you. But as Bloomberg Businessweek points out, using Zillow's home-value data, values nationwide have dipped 9.9% since President Barack Obama took office — and they had slipped in the years prior to that, as well.

Do Zillow's survey respondents know something we don't?


Trick or treat — or tasteless? Prominent law office's shindig reportedly encouraged employees to dress up as foreclosed-upon homeowners and squatters.

By Tony at MSN Real Estate Oct 31, 2011 12:23PM

© moodboard/CorbisMost of us dress up for Halloween in the name of fun. But for others, especially those who interact with the general public every day, Halloween costumes can be cathartic — a way to parody your deepest annoyances without repercussion.

Unless someone nearby has a camera.

Employees of New York's Steven J. Baum law firm, dubbed its state's biggest "foreclosure mill," found out the hard way, as photos turned up late last week depicting costumed employees mocking homeless people and foreclosed-upon homeowners at a company Halloween party.

After receiving photos and commentary from the 2010 event from a former Baum employee, Joe Nocera wrote in The New York Times of how partygoers displayed "an appalling lack of compassion" toward homeowners facing foreclosure. The firm represents mortgage lenders and servicers in foreclosure proceedings and evictions against homeowners. Its clients include Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

Among the party highlights shown in the photos:

  • A grubby-faced guest holding a sign reading, "I lost my home & I was never served," referring to homeowners who say they did not receive notice of foreclosure.
  • An attendee holding a bottle in a brown paper bag while pushing a shopping cart bearing the sign "Will worke (sic) (for) food."
  • Parts of the office decorated to look like blocks of foreclosed homes.

The North Carolina neighborhood in which this home resides is just one of many places seemingly named with Oct. 31 in mind.

By Tony at MSN Real Estate Oct 28, 2011 2:25PM

© Realtor.comIt's one thing to decorate your home with jack-o'-lanterns, cardboard skeletons and scary yard signs — assuming your homeowners association allows them. It's another altogether to live in an area where Halloween may seep into your consciousness 24/7.

Such may be the case for this Jacksonville, N.C., home, now for sale for $142,000.

Sure, the listing for boasts of the three-bedroom ranch house's new roof and the neighboring horse farm you can see from the porch on the half-acre lot. But the real appeal may rest in the neighborhood's name: Pumpkin Center. Just down the road are the ominously named Wolf Swamp Road and Druid Court. We'd love for neighboring Wolf Run to stick a "Were" on the front end of its name, but perhaps that would dissuade potential buyers.

Then again, that wasn't a problem for Scott Depot, W.Va., home to Big Scary Road. In fact, an unincorporated area just outside of the town is known simply as Scary — which has nothing on Hell, Mich., just outside Ann Arbor. Or perhaps the seasonally confused Merry Hell, Miss.

As the Census Bureau notes, these are just a few U.S. cities and places whose names may exist simply to become blog fodder as Oct. 31 rolls around.


So the weather's cooler. There still may be things to plant — and garden bargains to pursue.

By Tony at MSN Real Estate Oct 27, 2011 3:49PM

© SuperstockLate October isn't exactly your garden's proudest hour. That's often fine, as it whittles down your weekend yard tasks to raking leaves off it and discovering that the smell near that now-barren plant does in fact come from a decomposing critter.

But even before winter-prep season kicks into full swing, your garden may benefit from your extra attention. Acting now may even save you a few extra bucks.

The Daily Green's "The Green Cheapskate" blog recently shared advice on how to stretch garden season while stretching your hard-earned dollar. In fact, author Jeff Yeager calls this the "best time of year for all kinds of garden activities."

Here's a look at his five tips.






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